Monthly Archives: May 2014

There Is No Law against Love in the Workplace

How should Christians respond to hostility to their faith in the workplace?  Some people believe that faith should be private, not to be shared or otherwise evident in the workplace.  Others object to hearing talk about Jesus, complaining that they do not want Christians imposing their beliefs on them.  They contend that the workplace should be a religious free zone.

St. Paul has a beautiful and comprehensive definition of love in his first letter to the Corinthians.  He says love is patient and kind, does not engage in envy, nor boasts of being proud. It is not rude or self-seeking, easily angered, or keeps a record of wrongs; love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth.  He says that love should always protect, trust, hope and persevere.  (1 Cor. 13:4-7)

There is no law against love in the workplace.  There is no employee handbook that can object to conduct exhibiting these characteristics.  If as Christians, we adhere to these actions, we will stand out; people will notice that we are different; they will seek our counsel and advice on both business and personal matters.

When I worked at Mobil, there was a certain executive who, when he learned of my affiliation with a Christian ministry called Christians in Commerce, would mock my Christianity when we were with other colleagues, but when we were alone would ask me numerous questions.  With others present he would contend that Christians in Commerce was an oxymoron, but privately, he would ask me what we did, and seek my opinion on things in the Bible he did not agree with.  Whether he realized it, he was searching for God, and because of the credibility established in our relationship over many years, the Lord may have given me the opportunity to plant some seeds.

Our initial witness to Jesus Christ is usually better accomplished with conduct than words.  The conduct establishes the credibility and opens the door for the words to have more impact when the opportunity arises. The expression, “talk is cheap” applies to Christians too.  If you want the opportunity to witness to Christ with your words, witness first with your conduct.  Hostility to Christians in the workplace is often a reaction to words that come before the credibility of affirming conduct.

What workplace can object to patience, kindness, humility, forgiveness, truth, protection, hope, trust, perseverance – in other words, love?

What is Truth?

How do we know when something is true?  We hear someone make a statement.  We read a section in a book.  How do we test the truth of what we are hearing or reading?

A couple of Jesus’ disciples were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus discussing the events in connection with Jesus’ trial, execution and reports that he was alive.  Jesus joined them in their walk, though they did not recognize him, and engaged them in conversation, asking what they were talking about.  When they told him, he said, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?  And beginning with Moses and all of the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures about himself.” (Luke 24:25-27)

As they approached Emmaus, they asked Jesus to stay with them, and as they began dinner they finally recognized him as he broke the bread and offered thanks.  Immediately, he vanished from their sight.  They said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”  (Luke 24:32)

It takes Jesus and the Holy Spirit to open our minds to understand all that the Scriptures hold for us.  Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, I met Jesus one October evening many years ago on a country road, and he brought renewal to my life and gave me an intense desire to read Scripture.  Over the next several months I read the Bible from cover to cover as I commuted on the trains in and out of New York City each day.  Sometimes the words would seem to leap off the page with understanding and insight.  My heart would burn within me as the truth of God’s Word and action became evident to me. His Word has since “become a lamp to my feet.” (Psalm 119:105)

It is Jesus and the Holy Spirit who help us discern the truth of what is being said in Scripture and what we hear and read from other sources as well.  Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”  We know truth when our hearts burn within us – a litmus test given us by the Holy Spirit.

Making Requests to God

If God said, “Ask whatever you want me to give you,” how would you respond?  God asked Solomon that very question.  Surprisingly, though he was Israel’s new King, he replied in complete humility, “Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my Father, David.  But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.  For who is able to govern this great people of yours.” (1Kings 3:7, 9)

While God offered him whatever he wanted, Solomon did not choose the things people usually think of first such as wealth and power, or good health and a long life. Rather, he acknowledged his lack of experience and need as he came to serve as King. There are some lessons here.

First, when we are approaching God with a request, we need to come humbly, acknowledging our true status and need.  Solomon characterized himself as a little child.  How appropriate when coming before God!  Jesus said unless we become as little children we will never enter the kingdom of God.  We may not always understand what to request, confusing wants and desires with real needs.  Solomon was overwhelmed with the task he was about to face as a young and new king reigning over Israel.  That is not necessarily a bad place to be since it helped him recognize his needs in contrast to his desires.

Second, leave God some room to act in what will be in your best interests. Seek his will for your life.  Solomon did not ask to be a successful king.  He asked for wisdom and a discerning heart.  The Bible tells us that God was pleased with Solomon’s request and gave him not only what he asked for, but also what he didn’t ask for including riches and honor.  God also told him that if he obeyed his commands he would give him a long life.

Centuries later we hear the echo of this same response, when Jesus tells us not to worry about what to eat or drink or wear, but “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)  Our highest priority should be to seek God’s will in all things.  It is a measure of success that far surpasses the world’s view involving wealth, fame, honor, and power.

So, what would you ask?